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Colonel Prichard

Colonel Prichard

It is not certain exactly when Edward Prichard was born but we believe it to have been fairly early in the 17th century, possibly about 1610.  Nor do we know where he was born for it is thought that the Prichard family had more than one house, although it is most likely that his birthplace was Llancaiach Fawr. 

Unfortunately little is known of his early life.  He really came to prominence during the Civil War period.  By this time he would have already married Mary Mansel (possibly in the 1630’s), and his children probably would have been born – his two sons having “died young”.  Much of this is supposition, as thus far few records for this period of his life have come to light.

What is certain is that he held the position of Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1638 and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1640, a post he held throughout the Civil War until his death in 1655.

Edward Prichard supported the Royalist cause until the second half of 1645, when, like most of the Welsh gentry, he changed his allegiance to the Parliamentarian side.  It was late in this year that he was appointed Governor of Cardiff Castle.  In February of 1646 he staunchly held the Castle for the Parliamentarians against a siege headed by Edward Carne.  He was also commended “for his constancy in that affray” after the battle of St Fagans (1648), by Colonel Horton, the Parliamentary victor. 

It is known that Edward Prichard had also been appointed as one of the County Commissioners for the administration of the Act of Propagation (of the Gospel in Wales), and that he was therefore able to examine clergymen for “delinquency, malignancy and non-residence”.  He is known to have been a Baptist, and a member of a group that met at Graig-yr-Allt, Eglwysilan.  He is thought to have had Puritan sympathies.     

Sadly it was at the end of 1649 that his wife died.  In the October before her death she wrote a letter to her brother, asking that he should make arrangements for the upbringing of their two daughters, there being no gentlewomen locally who could attend to their education.  The loss of his wife and likely separation from his daughters must have been a bitter blow, for he never married again.  He survived his wife by only six years.


Prichard Family History

Prichard Family

The Prichards were proud of their heritage, boasted about their genealogy, and pointed to their descent from Ifor Bach. Ifor Bach, described by Gerald of Wales as ‘a man of short stature but good courage’ was one of the common ancestors shared by the Prichards and the Lewises of the Van (and later St. Fagans).

At some point possibly after an incident involving the murder of a kinsman of Edward Lewis apparently by a servant of Edward Prichard, the Lewis and Prichard sides of the family appear to have fallen out with each other leading to brawls – on one occasion in Gelligaer Church! There were also court cases involving Edward and his two sons and members of the Lewis and Williams of Gelligaer families. A total of eleven cases were brought before the Star Chamber, concerning Edward Prichard and his son David. These offences included:

  • “Brawling in Gelligaer Church”, “an assault at Merthyr” and “resistance to arrest"
  • “Assaults at Cardiff and abuse at the sessions there”;
  • “Assault by Edmund Lewis in revenge against David Prichard for attempts to put down an unlawful market on a mountain, called Ffait-y-Waun” (Ffair-y-Waun?)
  • “Assault and riot at Gelligaer by David Prichard, his brother Thomas and his man, Stephen Rooke”;
  • “Attack by David Prichard, his brother Thomas and his man Stephen Rooke on the house of Edward William, yeoman, and assault at Gelligaer”
  • “Bribery of a witness to confess perjury at a former suit”.

Relationships between these families is proof that blood ties are no guarantee of friendship.

This last Edward married Mary Mansell of Briton Ferry. He held the post of Sheriff in 1638 and in 1640 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and continued in this post throughout the Civil War period until his death in 1655.

Having supported the King until mid.1645, like many Welsh gentry he changed his allegiance to the Parliamentarian side, and his Puritan sympathies led to his appointment as Governor of Cardiff Castle late that same year. In February 1646 he held the castle successfully against a siege by local malcontents headed by Edward Carne, until relieving forces arrived.

Subsequently Colonel Horton, the Parliamentary victor at the battle of St. Fagans in 1648, commended him for his constancy in that affray. Edward Prichard was also one of the County Commissioners for administering the Propagation Act, and a member of the group of Baptists based at Graig-yr-Allt. He seems to have been rather more law-abiding than his father and grandfather!

Sadly, Edward and his wife lost their two sons Lewis and Thomas, they are said to have “died young”. It was their two daughters Jane and Mary who therefore inherited the Prichard estates and so on their marriage, all was lost to the Prichard name.

However, the Prichard family have never been forgotten, mainly thanks to this last son and his exploits during the Civil War, and the fine Manor house they left behind.

Long live the memory of Edward “Colonel” Prichard and his disorderly forebears!